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IBM continues fight for TSA Secure Flight contract

The Government Accountability Office left IBM with just a glimmer of hope when it denied most of the grounds of its protest of a Transportation Security Agency contract won by Accenture.

While GAO said in April that the Secure Flight contract award was proper, it had one key caveat: IBM’s allegation that Accenture had improper access to its bid and proposal information.

GAO dismissed that allegation as premature because TSA said it was investigating the charges, which if true would violate the Procurement Integrity Act.

But that hope for IBM was just a glimmer because TSA has reaffirmed its $47.8 million award to Accenture.

And IBM has now filed a new protest, arguing that TSA made the wrong decision.

According to GAO documents, IBM alleges that a subcontractor obtained its bid materials from a restricted-access TSA website and provided the information to Accenture.

IBM, the incumbent, and Accenture were neck-and-neck in the competition for Secure Flight. TSA uses the program to pre-screen passengers and determine if they are either high-risk or low-risk. IBM’s bid came in at $49.6 million and Accenture’s was $47.8 million.

Both companies received “outstanding” and “good” scores on their technical, management and corporate experience factors. But Accenture was rated “outstanding” for its technical factor and IBM was rated a “good.”

TSA put more weight on the technical score and Accenture had a lower price, so all of that pushed the decision in Accenture’s favor in TSA's eyes.

IBM’s first protest raised questions about how its proposal was evaluate but GAO denied those grounds, leaving just the TSA investigation to be decided.

IBM filed its protest Nov. 21 after learning that TSA had finished its investigation and picked Accenture for a second time. A decision from GAO is due March 1.

Meanwhile, IBM continues to support Secure Flight as the incumbent.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 26, 2018 at 10:39 AM


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